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If the King of Romance, Yash Chopra was Pakistani…

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I watched the Yash Chopra interview with Shah Rukh Khan last night. It had been conducted on the great director’s birthday just a few weeks ago when he turned 80. I recommend you watch it. This man is not just talking about his achievements but giving real life pointers and the whole one hour 48 minutes held me captivated and left me motivated to do more in my own life.

Although we mourn his death, let there be no doubt that he must have died in peace having fulfilled many of his life’s dreams and ambitions. I won’t go on about him in this piece because far greater writers in large numbers will do a better job of it. Instead I will talk about the other thought that occurred to me whilst watching this interview and reflecting on his life.

What if Yash Chopra had stayed in Pakistan (he was born in Lahore) after partition?
We all can guess what would happen then, right? He would have grown up marginalized in school by his classmates. His family was not wealthy or of high status so he would have had a very had time in society as well. But more worryingly, he would not have been able to become a film director and create the great work he leaves behind. Perhaps he would even be made to convert to Islam on live television? Even if he did become a director, eventually he would have had to shut down considering all the obstacles we as a nation would place in the field of arts.

It would be even more interesting to think about him as being a Muslim instead. It is very likely that his parents, instead of the encouragement his illiterate mom gave him, would shoot down the idea of him going into the business of making movies. There would be no industry anyway. The passion would be killed right there, no questions asked.

Yash Chopra was sent to Mumbai to get his passport made and then to the UK to study engineering. He opted, instead, to stay back and chase his dream of film making. In our Pakistani Muslim version, he would have ended up in the UK and been an unknown engineer, no doubt.

Knowing the mentality of our people, I know some of them reading this will think that he would have been more useful to society as an enginee. I’m afraid you are wrong; he had his place in the world. He touched lives in greater numbers than many can imagine. He helped create an industry that now brings in billions to his country and is a great brand image. Most importantly, he died a good man with a list of achievements under his belt.

I hope someday Pakistanis will be encouraged to chase their dreams regardless of what they are and our people won’t discourage each other or mock them. How can we sing “khudee ko kur buland” whilst at the same time clipping the wings of anyone who approaches the edge of the cliff? The shackles we have placed on ourselves need to be broken and the perceived stigmas of certain actions removed. Otherwise, many Yash Chopras will be born in this land and lost.

One of my favorite quotes is the right way to end: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” – Henry Ford.

Yash Chopra certainly thought he could. “Dekha ek khwab to yeh silsilay huway” Sir. We won’t remember you kabhi kabhi but ratherJab tak hai jaan.

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